Lawrence Barnett, Wonderland Design: “Change before you have to”

11 May 2023, 16:13 PM
  • Laurence Barnett, managing director at Wonderland Design, discusses the importance of keeping up to date with your designs
Lawrence Barnett, Wonderland Design: “Change before you have to”

One of our clients recently asked whether it was time for a packaging design refresh. Much had changed in the category in question and their design hadn’t been updated for a number of years. So, my instinct was to say ‘yes’, but I wasn’t entirely sure about the exact reasons why it should be updated.

Some say that pack changes should be every three to four years to keep it up to date. Or whenever the brand team feels a bit of pack ‘fatigue’ – regardless of whether consumers might feel the same!

So, what might prompt a pack design change? There are actually a few more rational indicators:

Needs must
The most common reason is when there is a change to product ingredients or legislation that means the pack must be changed. This provides an opportunity to evolve the design but you should also be clear about why the design is being changed and what it will seek to achieve.

Competitors upping their game
Updated packaging from existing competitors and perhaps new brands coming into the category can have an impact. Such changes may make your brand look dated. They may be doing a better job at communicating key benefits or be using new pack structures that make their products more appealing. If so, then it’s time to think about how to respond.

Brand evolution
Your brand may have evolved and changed. And maybe your packaging design or its format hasn’t kept up. Take an objective look at what your brand offers and consider whether your pack is still a good reflection of how you want consumers to see you. If it doesn’t quite work then it’s certainly time to look at what changes need to be made.

Product extensions
New product ranges or even extensions can make you realise the shortcomings of your current pack. New products that are added will challenge the way your existing products look. It’s always better to look at the range as a whole rather than develop new product packaging that takes on a slightly different design, meaning ranges can look disconnected and inconsistent.

Made you look
Tired packaging designs can lose their appeal to existing consumers and fail to attract new ones. If you sense that this is a problem then a refresh, which may possibly include a new sustainable pack format, can reinvigorate the brand among both existing and new consumers.

Changing trends
Lifestyles, food and drink and environmental trends have changed over the past few years. And they keep changing. Perhaps these have had a particular impact on your category. If so, your brand may need to adapt and play more to the changing landscape, so a pack design refresh may be what’s needed to exploit new opportunities.

There are some brands that routinely make changes to their pack graphics. Much less so, pack formats. Many bigger brands, in particular, make incremental changes little and often simply to keep the brand fresh. For smaller brands, this is neither practical nor necessary.

So, all the more reason for brands to keep reviewing their category and consumer behaviours as well as their own brand and product positioning to make objective judgments as to when a refresh may be in the offing.

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